Whether you have a power outage or are just hoping to save some money on electricity bill is it possible to use ice to keep a fridge cold?
Does it actually work and will it keep your entire fridge cold? Or could it potentially damage your fridge?
Using ice to keep a fridge cold will work a little bit. Place ice in a bucket or container so it doesn't leak into your fridge and cause damage. Place your most important cold food (eg. meats, cheeses etc) touching the ice and other less important food (eg. vegetables) further away. Dry ice can keep an entire fridge cold.
Can You Use Ice To Keep a Fridge Cold?
Putting ice in your fridge to try and keep the entire fridge cold will work a little bit but ice generally isn't cold enough to keep all areas of the fridge completely cold.
A fridge is usually set to around 40ºF (4ºC) and given ice is usually around 32ºF (0ºC) it just isn't cold enough to keep all the air in the fridge cold.
So if you have a power outage and need to keep things cold it's still worth putting any ice your fridge however you want to put food you MUST keep cold directly in contact with you ice.
Meat, cheese and anything dairy or anything that spoils quickly should be covered in ice and items that are less prone to spoiling can be left in the fridge close to the ice but not touching.
Can You Use Dry Ice To Keep A Fridge Cold?
Dry ice, which is -109ºF (-78ºC), does have enough cooling power to keep all the air in your fridge or freezer cold enough. But you need to be careful as the dry ice can potentially freeze the coolant in your fridge and cause cracks, leaks and breakages. More on how to use dry ice in a fridge or freezer.
How Much Ice Does It Take To Keep a Fridge Cold?
A fridge that isn't turned on is a lot like a giant cooler. It's a large box that is insulated on all sides so when putting ice in your fridge imagine it like you're putting ice in a large cooler.
When putting ice in a cooler usually a 1:1 or 2:1 ice to food ratio is recommended. This is fine for a small cooler but this equates to A LOT of ice to fill an entire fridge.
To keep your fridge cold using regular ice you would likely need to half fill it up with ice and then not open it at all.
With a front facing door it's not practical to stack that much ice in a fridge as it would all fall out.
Plus the design of fridges mean as soon as you open them all the cold air inside escapes out through the door and is replaced with warm room temperature air. This makes it really hard to keep your fridge cold using just regular ice.
If you're going to put a lot of ice in your fridge then you want to make sure that it's in a bucket or a container so when it melts it doesn't leak everywhere and go all over the floor.
How Do You Keep Food Cold In a Broken Fridge?
How can you keep food cold in a broken fridge? Or how can you keep food cold in a fridge during a power outage?
When your fridge is broken or turned off there is no active cooling taking place and the fridge is not blowing around cold air to keep everything cold.
However, fridges and freezers are still well insulated on the side to help trap in the code and keep out the heat.
When your fridge is broken the insulation in the sides still work so you can use your fridge much like you would use a regular cooler.
To keep the food cold in a broken fridge place ice in your fridge (inside buckets so the ice doesn't melt everywhere) and place your food so it's touching the ice.
Items that spoil easily like meats, cheeses and other dairy products will likely need to be completely covered in ice, while other less sensitive food/drinks might be ok just stored in the fridge near the ice.
Will My Fridge Get Damaged If I Put A Bag of Ice In There?
If you put a bag of ice in your fridge and the bag is not completely sealed then as the ice melts water will go all throughout your fridge.
Most fridges are designed so the inside of the fridge is waterproof. This means a bag of ice in your fridge is unlikely to cause any water damage.
However, if you aren't careful the water will leak out of your fridge and all over the floor.
Putting a bag of ice in a working fridge will not lower the temperature so much that it threatens to damage the coolant or the electrics of your fridge.
So it's totally fine to put a bag of ice in your fridge. It won't damage your fridge you just want to make sure the ice is in a bucket or watertight bag so water doesn't leak everywhere.
Dry ice on the other hand does have the potential to damage your fridge.
Dry ice is so cold that it can freeze your coolant causing the coolant pipes to crack or break. It's also so cold that it could damage the electrics in your fridge.
When using dry ice to keep a fridge cold you want to make sure you don't put the dry ice directly on the walls of your fridge.
Use cardboard or use the shelves within the fridge to hold the dry ice.
The dry ice will cool down the air in your fridge but as long as it's not touching the walls of your fridge you should be safe.
What Happens If You Put Ice In The Fridge When It's Turned On?
If you put ice in your fridge the ice will begin to melt, but it won't melt nearly as quickly as it would if left at room temperature.
Fridges are usually set to approximately 40ºF (0ºC) and as this is above the melting point of water any ice you put in the fridge will eventually rise in temperature up to that of the fridge.
As it rises in temperature it will melt and turn into liquid water.
Because a fridge is set to a temperature much colder than the outside air the ice will melt much slower when compared to ice left outside the fridge.